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CHUBA OKADIGBO: Philosopher, scholar, strategist and mentor (1941-2003). By Chido Nwangwu

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Dr. CHUBA OKADIGBO (1941-2003)Philosopher, scholar, strategist, wordsmith, publisher, activist, orator, traditionalist (Oyi of Oyi) and former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
                                                               
 By Chido Nwangwu,  Founder & Publisher of  USAfricaonline.comCLASSmagazine and USAfrica multimedia networks, Houston.  
 

USAfrica, Houston, September 26, 2003: A big tree fell in the political and intellectual landscape of Nigeria; and indeed Africa. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, philosopher, master of political intrigues scholar, publisher, activist, orator, traditionalist (Oyi of Oyi), and former President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on Thursday September 25, 2003, at the age of 61, in Abuja. He was vice presidential aspirant of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) with retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as leader of the ticket.

Chuba, a hard-nosed political operator, was a bridge between the transited “old brigade” of the Azikiwes and Awolowos and the new, unsophisticated, impatient new breed of politicians in Nigeria. He was colorful, flamboyant and sometimes controversial in his activist life. But one of his misadventures was the oft-cited statements where he allegedly said that Dr. Azikiwe’s opposition to the NPN “victory” of 1982 could be “likened to the rantings of an ant.”

On many issues, he showed rigor and lucidity in intellectual discourses. Chuba was in Kano for an ANPP rally on Tuesday in Kano where federal police sprayed tear-gas to disperse their opposition to the Obasanjo presidency and “reelection.”

Okadigbo, who holds a doctorate in philosophy, had a health record of respiratory issues.

Meanwhile, a key member of Okadigbo’s ANPP in Kano State Hajiya Naja’tu Mohammed has told the Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service the former senate president may have died from the impact of of an “offensive liquid” which the Nigerian police poured on ANPP leaders dignitaries at the same rally in Kano. “Immediately Okadigbo inhaled the offensive liquid, he was not himself again and party men started administering first aid on him to revive him…. It was something else, I and Okadigbo were soaked, even Buhari was soaked by the offensive liquid. The Police will not say they don’t know Buhari. That was the beginning of Okadigbo’s travails, because he started behaving like an asthmatic patient.”

On his part, durable journalist and nationalist Chief MCK Ajuluchukwu pointedly said that Chuba’s death is a “national calamity which was sure to embarrass President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Inspector General of Police (Tafa Balogun). It is a national calamity. It must be an embarrassment to the president and IGP that the police in Kano had to throw teargas at a rally being addressed by the Governor of Kano State and the Presidential candidate of the ANPP (Buhari) and his running mate (Okadigbo). There should be a revisit to the constitutional provision for freedom of Assembly without police molestation. This death is a kind of incident that can bring the North and the East together because they share a common sense of grief. Things like that should not be allowed to happen. The death of Bola Ige is shocking enough, Okadigbo’s death is even more bizarre. There should be an investigation regarding the real cause of death, which is now being attributed to police teargas in kano. I don’t believe he died a natural death. It seems like a respiratory collapse arising out of poisonous gas.”

Also, the Kaduna State chairman of ANPP Alhaji Kabir Umar has said his party “vehemently object to the way and manner Okadigbo was tear gas(ed) during the Kano rally…the death of Okadigbo was unfortunate, this is because we believe that his sudden death is not unconnected with the use of tear gas fired by the police. If they know that a man like Okadigbo was asthmatic and the security men still went ahead to fire tear gas in that environment, what did they expect?”

USAfricaonline.com contacts indicate that Dr. Okadigbo was taken to his Jerome Udoji Close residence in Asokoro, Abuja, the city where he has a home, to get additional medical attention and some rest. He was also planning for next day to see if could make another court appearance in the ANPP’s electoral-legal challenge to President (retired (Gen.) Olusegun Obasanjo’s controversial reelection of May 2003. The petitioners, the alliance of Nigeria’s political parties, the European Union, Human Rights Watch, and many international observers have since described the “reelection” in various terms as “rigged, unfair, and not credible” – citing certain cases of vote inflation and violence.

Chuba’s police orderlies were withdrawn recently and he has been getting threatening calls. A number of his supporters are outraged by his sudden death.

Chuba told me in an interview during the 2002 World Igbo Congress in Houston that “Nigeria’s President Obasanjo is sorely lacking in the mannerisms of running a democratic government. We fell out because I insisted and worked constitutionally on the principle of separation powers. He believe he owns the government. He’s a soldier and acts like one. But this is a democracy.” He fell out with Obasanjo and the party, PDP, and said the following in Nigeria “Now, the Nigerian polity is sick of second term syndrome, a threatening political cancer. Sadly, I must say that the PDP, which had been a big party of the people, is fast becoming a problem party for Obasanjo and his associates, which is run by his sycophantic cronies. They now lie prostrate in the trauma wing of a political hospital. Some good persons have been trying to nurse the PDP back to good health. But Obasanjo and his cronies are unwilling to let go, due to their ‘second term’ mania. So, what next? We all know that nothing succeeds like failure….”

Before then, Dr. Okadigbo informed USAfricaonline.com in another brief interview after his election in 1999 as Nigeria’s 7th Senate president that “we’ll continue to place the overriding interests of all Nigerians at the top of our legislative agenda. We’ll return quickly to the task of rebuilding the country and its democratic institutions.”

Chuba was key negotiator for Nigeria’s government led at the time (1979-1983) by Alhaji Shehu Shagari in securing the return of Biafra’s leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. He was Shagari’s political adviser. On the same issue of Biafrans and rehabilitation into Nigeria, he argued in 2001 that calling “ex-Biafran soldiers traitors is nonsensical, as it is inflammatory and unpatriotic….it is an attempt to boost up this anti-Igbo sentiment.”

On June 24, 2002, as he was planning to be president of Nigeria, he said “I do not wish to be a South-East nor an Igbo President. Nor do I wish to be a Southern President. I wish to be a Nigerian President, because I am thoroughly Nigerian, very Nigerian. I want my fellow Nigerians to accept me, to endorse me, to vote for me, because I will run a programmatic government which will get things done for Nigerians and for Nigeria and thereby, Move Nigeria Forward- positively.”

On the issue of the Presidency of Nigeria, and a subtle dig at retired Gen Obasanjo, Chuba said elsewhere the same month that Nigeria “As a country, we have been endowed by God Almighty with so much resources and potentials to be great. However, we have to free our Nation from direction-less, authoritarian rulers who are suffocating our democracy and have arrested our growth. What we need to do is simple- with our votes; we can free our nation and free ourselves.
Nigerians, free yourselves and fly!
Nigerians, free yourselves and fly!”

Regarding the ruling PDP which he co-founded with Nigeria’s vice president Atiku Abubakar, and others, later joined by Obasanjo, Chuba said, pointedly, “Sadly, the PDP has been unable to manage victory. The party has burst at the seams and has been in persistent trouble, no thanks to self-inflicted wounds. The problem began in June 1999, when President Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP induced Senators in the opposition parties, namely, the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) to defeat the PDP candidate for the post of Senate President in the person of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo. Thereafter, discord between the executive and legislative arms of government began.

“Next, Obasanjo engineered the ouster of the PDP National Chairman, Chief Solomon Lar, whom he replaced with Chief Barnabas Gemade, whom he again replaced with Chief Audu Ogbe. Then. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo made it known that he wanted a second term as President. So did all PDP Governors and Local Government Chairmen. The APP and AD Chief Executives have followed suit. Now, the Nigerian polity is sick of second term syndrome, a threatening political cancer. Sadly, I must say that the PDP, which had been a big party of the people, is fast becoming a problem party for Obasanjo and his associates, which is run by his sycophantic cronies. They now lie prostrate in the trauma wing of a political hospital. Some good persons have been trying to nurse the PDP back to good health. But Obasanjo and his cronies are unwilling to let go, due to their ‘second term’ mania. So, what next? We all know that nothing succeeds like failure. What may happen next can be anybody’s guess. Bearing in mind the fact that success has many friends whereas failure is an orphan.”

In an address to Nigerians in London on July 14, 2002, he directed his sharp mind to the issue of Incumbency as factor in Nigeria’s politics, and what Nigerians should learn from the U.S. He noted that “Incumbency is a two-edged sword. It can be quite raw. It can cut an opponent and it can also cut the holder of the sword. If the holder is a good performer, he can use the relevant performance as a sword of incumbency. But if he is a bad performer, that same sword can cut him, even to pieces. In the contemporary Nigerian setting, it all seems that incumbency will hurt many of its holders, due to dubious performances. Remember that George Bush, Snr, was an incumbent President of the United States when Bill Clinton defeated him. Bush led the US to fight and defeat Saddam Hussein and Iraq in 1990 but the American thought he did not perform at home. They turned out to be right in that Bill Clinton gave America eight straight years of unprecedented prosperity and peace.”

He continued: “Similarly (at the time) incumbent President Kenneth Kaunda, incumbent President Kerekou and incumbent President Gerald Ford were defeated at one time or the other, when the incumbency sword cut its holders in favour of opponents. When voters are appalled by bad performance and when they are vigilant, watch out for change. Moreover, change is the only thing that does not change. Every thing else is subject to change. No one, no class, no nation can stop the mind of change from blowing when it must and none can halt change itself when it is in real motion.”

With an erudite mind and powerful political connections, Okadigbo achieved most of his ambitions. But he could have even been more with just a little more discipline.

Fact is: like or hate him, you cannot ignore Chuba Okadigbo and his imprints on the sands of Nigeria’s politics. Thank you!

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica (Houston)

Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica (Houston)

Finally, I offer you the gift of the wise words of my Aro elders: Oyi of Oyi, Ikenga Iguedo, may your lineage endure!!


Dr. Chido Nwangwu,  author of the forthcoming 2013 book titled ‘Mandela & Achebe: Footprints of Greatness’  www.MandelaAchebeChido.com, is the Founder & Publisher of Houston-based USAfrica multimedia networks since 1993, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com;  CLASSmagazineAchebeBooks.comIgboEventsNigeria360 and several blogs. He has been profiled by CNN International for his pioneering work on the news and public policy interests of Africans and Americans.  Chido, former adviser on Africa business to Houston’s ex-Mayor Dr. Lee Brown, appears as an analyst on CNN, London-based SkyNEWS,  NBC, ABC, CBSNews and other platforms. e-mail: Chido247@Gmail.com.  Follow Twitter.com/Chido247Facebook.com/MandelaAchebeChidoFacebook.com/USAfricaChido , Facebook.com/USAfrica247

•• The preceding tribute appeared first at https://usafricaonline.com/chubaokadigbo.chido2003.html


 

A thumbnail biography of Okadigbo’s and some of his thoughts will include, the following:

Birth: December 17, 1941

Marital Status:
Married to Margery Okadigbo (they have children and he has other kids before then)

Education :
Diploma in Trade Economics Blankenburg College of Technology, Germany, 1963.

Master der Philosophie Karl Marx Universitaet, Leipzig, Germany, 1967.
Master of arts in philosophy the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., USA, 1972.

Post-doctoral fellow of politics the catholic university of america, Washington. D.C., USA, 1973-1975

Teaching experience :
Assistant professor, later adjunct associate professor of philosophy University of the District of Columbia Washington D.C., 1973-75.

Adjunct assistant professor of politics the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., U.S.A, 1973-75.

Adjunct assistant professor of politics Howard University, Washington D.C., U.S.A, 1974-75.

Director-general centre for inter-disciplinary and political studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1975-1978.

Lecturer in philosophy University of Nigeria, Nsukka, 1975-78.

Professor of philosophy Bigard Memorial Senior Seminary [Roman Catholic Mission]. Enugu, Nigeria, 1975-77.

Academic visitor and research scholar [visiting professor] London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Government. London, United Kingdom, 1984-1987.

Author:
Logic for Black undergraduates,

1973 on Hegel’s treatment of Egypt: the middle-point between nature and spirit,

1973 Time for change,

1978 The mission of the NPN,

1979 Consciencism in African political philosophy,

1985 Power and Leadership in Nigeria,

1987 Transition to Transition: a senate profile,

1995 -several articles in national and international journals, magazines and newspapers-

Politics :
Organizing secretary, later administrative assistant, NCNC national secretariat. 2 Ikorodu road, Yaba, lagos, 1959-1962.

Secretary, academic board of NCNC, 1960-1963

Assistant publicity secretary Zikist National Vanguard lagos branch 1961-1963

Special correspondent: the Cock monthly newspaper of the NCNC, 1960-1963

Founder/Secretary, Lagos municipal tenants movement, 1960-1961

Founder/President, Nigeria Tenants movement, 1961-1963

General secretary Nigeria Union of students, East Germany1964-1966

General secretary NCNC, East German branch, 1964-1966

Vice president NCNC, East Europe wing, 1964-1966

Elected member, constituent assembly federal republic of nigeria, 1977-1978 (which framed the constitution of the federal republic of nigeria 1999).

Deputy national secretary later, acting national secretary national party of nigeria [npn], 1978-1979

Special adviser on political affairs to the president of nigeria, 1979-1983.

Secretary elders council [national] social democratic party [sdp] 1990-1992

Senator of the federal republic of nigeria 1992-1993

Chairman, senate foreign affairs committee dec. 1992-nov. 1993

National vice chairman [south east] Peoples democratic movement [pdm], 1993-date

Proponent of the name and title “peoples democratic party [pdp]”

Proponent of the flag of the pdp [green, white, red]

Proponent of the motto of the pdp [power to the people]

Co-proponent of the symbol of the pdp [umbrella]

Chairman pdp national publicity committee, 1998-1999

Re-elected as a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999

Chairman, senate foreign affairs committee jun.1999- nov.1999

President of the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria. nov.18, 1999 – Aug. 8, 2000.

Founder/chairman Institute of civic affairs, July 2001 till date

Chairman, senate committee on Riots, crises and conflicts, sept. 2001 till date

Honours:
Ekwueme of Ogbunike, 1976.

Ikenga Iguedo, 1980

Oyi of Oyi, 1992

Ikenga Omaballa, 1999

Okwuluoha Ndigbo, fct, 1999

Orji [okeosisi] of Anambra state,

1999 Ijelle Awka, 1999

Ezeudo na Ihembosi, 2000

Okaome Ndigbo [Orlu], 2000

Ode jim jim [Okigwe], 2001

Enyi Nawfia, 2001

Order of diplomatic merit, gwanghwa medal of distinguished international service of the republic of korea, 1980.

National order of the Republic of Guinea, 1981.

Chuba had his way with words. Remarkable, among many, is an excerpt from his interview with erudite journalist Lewis Obi, in the Concord newspaper in July1982, on Statistics: “Statistics are useful, indeed necessary. But you must examine, indeed re-examine statistics before you take really rational decisions. Let me put it another way. Statistics are like bikinis. What they show are quite interesting. What they conceal is even more interesting. In other words, you must look deeper &endash;beyond the first flash of statistical data.

On Ideology:
An ideology is a world outlook or world view, a Weltanschauug to be more scientific. From the stand-point of government, you can call it a framework or the mirror of a leader or ruler for looking at the State and the world generally. In the specific case of Nigeria, there is an ideology in the form of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, given in Chapter Two of the Constitution. Take note that every councillor, chairman, legislator and executive in Nigeria must take an oath of office wherefore he swears to maintain the Constitution. This is mandatory. In ADDITION, A LEGISLATOR, RULER OR LEADER SHOULD ADHERE TO THE MANDATE given in the manifesto and Constitution of the party on whose platform he came into office. Usually, they do NOT contradict any Constitution of our Fatherland. The central point is that Nigeria should be a welfare state, as originally ordained by the Founding Fathers of Nigeria and their political parties. Nevertheless, there is room for particularisations and rationalised ordering of priorities, according to existential circumstances. This must include the reality of free competition, marketi-sm, and the reward of Merit in the contemporary world.

On Money and Power:
Every body needs money to live and cope with life. You can use money to do good and you can use government money to do good for the many. But as they say, money is the root of all evils. Like the incumbency sword, money can cut both ways, the giver or taker, the rich or the poor. The worst part of money is to have more than you need. With respect to power, the greedy but very important personalities (VIPs) who seek or have more money than they need are among the shamelessly corrupt. They can do any thing bad to stack money and to induce any body to do evil. In business, some persons who worship money are fraudsters, while others may even sell drugs to little, innocent children. Some of the moneybags have often told me that the only way to get power is have money or to be a slave of moneybags. I did ask them how much personal money they think or know that Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, Alhaji Tafawa Belewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Mallam Aminu Kano and Alhaji Shehu Shagari had to be Heads of State or Governments. Also, I told them that it is God, not money that gives or takes power to who He wills. Furthermore, I know that God provides money through good men to any one that He wanted to give power.

On Travails and setbacks:
“When one door closes, another opens”. A man may rise or fall. Otherwise, he is static and this can be very boring. When you rise, try to hang in there but never abandon principles. When you fall, stand up, dust up, and move. In addition, I always remember the deep British thinker, Rudyard Kiplins, when I rise or when I fall. He wrote: if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run, yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it &endash;And which is more-you’ll be a Man, my son!” during a chat with students in Umuahia, June 2001.

On Foreign Policy:
At the beginning, Nigerian foreign policy was non-alignment, with either the West or East, as power blocks and as capitalist or communist nations. In 1976, this policy was revised, wherefore Africa became the centrepiece of Nigerian foreign policy. Thanks to this doctrine, Nigeria facilitated the independence or liberation of a host of colonized African countries, including apartheid South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Recently, this policy was made to include military intervention for unity and peace in troubled African states, such as Liberia, Sierra-Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This has been overly expensive, in terms of money, human life and property. This spontaneous policy review is in search of yet a more rational review. In addition, the world is no longer as ideologically divided as it was before the fall of the Soviet bloc of nations. It is no longer bipolar or multipolar. The world is now unipolar. This is an additional rationale for some inevitable but dynamic review of Nigerian Foreign Policy. Therefore, I should propose an All Nigerian Foreign Policy Conference, as distinct from any unilateral and undemocratic decision by any ruler or group.

On Nigeria’s Budget
…In his Budget Address, President Olusegun Obasanjo aptly observed in page 2: “for this Government and most Nigerians, our hard-won democracy is yet to translate into significant improvements in our lives.” I completely agree with this. But why? The major reason for this pitiful failure was given by several Senators who spoke yesterday. To wit: The Y1999 Supplementary Budget and the Y2000 Budget, with all their Amendments, have not been properly implemented by the Executive, whose two hands were totally free to implement. You will recall that a highly placed public officer in the Ministry of Finance has been quoted as saying that less than 30% of budgeted money for projects in Y2000 has been spent! Ironically, the Senators, after all, are right at last.

Mr. President, I hereby suggest that the political economy approach, as opposed to the bookkeeper, is the best way for budget formulation and costing in Nigeria. From this standpoint, our national budget must be made to be consistent with the federal principle. In this connection, no state or zone may have more than the other, excepting when and where the Rationale are clear, empirically verifiable, and socially/morally defensible. Unfortunately, in the Y2001 Budget, there are many manifestation of disproportion, with regard to the allocation of fluids and projects to our Zones and States in several particulars. For example, I cannot find any justification for the reduction of my Zone, the South-East, to the sixth and lowest position in the Y2001 Budget of President Obasanjo. Why can’t all Zones have equal share and why must the South-East be at the very bottom of the ‘Zonal Distribution of Core Projects’?

——
Why Obama’s late to symbolic, historic meeting with Mandela.  By Chido Nwangwu.  https://usafricaonline.com/2013/06/26/obamas-late-to-symbolic-historic-meeting-with-fit-mandela-by-chido-nwangwu/

VIDEO of the CNN International broadcast/profile of USAfrica and CLASSmagazine Publisher Chido Nwangwu.   http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn  

——-

Forthcoming 2013 BOOK: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary livesMandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrs and friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, USAfrica Founder Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”

He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

“I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

Margaret Thatcher, Mandela and Africa.  By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, and the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com. Click for newscast video of London-based SkyNEWS, the global, 24-hour British international tv network’s interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu on April 11, 2013 regarding this latest commentary http://youtu.be/G0fJXq_pi1c )

There’s a compelling political trinity to Nelson Mandela: the man, the messiah and the mystique. https://usafricaonline.com/2013/07/18/mandela-95-hearty-cheers-to-his-footprints-of-greatness-by-chido-nwangwu/

——- ——

Obama’s Africa agenda, our business and democracy. By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com

——

 Margaret Thatcher, Mandela and Africa.  By Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, and the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com. Click for newscast video of London-based SkyNEWS, the global, 24-hour British international tv network’s interview with USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu on April 11, 2013 regarding this latest commentary http://youtu.be/G0fJXq_pi1c )
ACHEBE Lives As an Immortal Writer In Our Hearts and Minds. By Chido Nwangwu.
USAfrica, May 22, 2013:

——–

POPE FRANCIS, champion for the poor and evangelistic dedication’ by Chido Nwangwu

Long Live, CHINUA ACHEBE! The Eagle on the iroko.                    

FULL text of this tribute-commentary at USAfricaonline.com click link https://usafricaonline.com/2013/03/22/long-live-chinua-achebe-by-chido-nwangwu/

 

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USAfrica is an international multimedia company, founded since 1992 by Dr. Chido Nwangwu [author of Mandela & Achebe: Leadership, Identity and Footprints of Greatness], with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Also, he established the 1st African-owned, U.S.-based professional newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com, both assessed by the CNN and The New York Times as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia networks. USAfrica’s first print edition of USAfrica magazine published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994; The Black Business Journal in 1998; CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; PhotoWorks.TV in 2005, and several platforms and products. USAfricaonline.com is powered by the global resources of USAfrica, CLASSmagazine, CLASSmagazine.TV, PhotoWorks.Tv, USAfrica.TV, MandelaAchebeChido.com, AchebeBooks.com and ChidoNwangwu.com

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U.S says it will investigate Zimbabwe presidential election violence; MDC disputes result; winner acknowledges there were “challenges”

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Special to USAfricaonline.com

The MDC Alliance led by 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa is disputing the outcome of the polls alleging that they were rigged to the point of having more votes than registered voters.

While the winner, ZANU PF leader and incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, acknowledged that there were “challenges” he insisted the polls were free and fair.

The US Department of State said Zimbabwe’s 30 July elections presented the country with a historic chance to move beyond the political and economic crises of the past and toward profound democratic change.

“Unfortunately, Zimbabwe’s success in delivering an election day that was peaceful, and open to international observers, was subsequently marred by violence and a disproportionate use of deadly force against protestors by the security forces,” the department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

Six people were shot dead on Wednesday by soldiers and many others were injured. A seventh person is reported to have succumbed to gunshot wounds on Friday at a hospital in Chitungwiza.

The US said it welcomes the commitment by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release comprehensive election results in a form that provides full transparency. ZEC maintains that the election results were an accurate reflection of the voters’ will.

Former colonial master, Britain, also remained concerned about the developments.

“The UK remains deeply concerned by the violence following the elections and the disproportionate response from the security forces,” said UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriett Baldwin.

She, however, urged electoral stakeholders to work together to ensure calm.

“While polling day passed off peacefully, a number of concerns have been raised by observer missions, particularly about the pre-election environment, the role of State media, and the use of State resources. There is much to be done to build confidence in Zimbabwe’s electoral process.”

Baldwin urged that any appeals against the results or the process be handled swiftly and impartially.– African News Agency (ANA)

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Zimbabwe’s presidential election offers opportunity for post-Mugabe progress. By Wilf Mbanga

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Zimbabwe-Politics-USAfricaonline

Today, Monday July 30, 2018, Zimbabweans [went] to the polls to elect Robert Mugabe’s successor. For pretty much the average life expectancy of many Zimbabweans, one man has ruled the country with an iron fist. Eight elections were held during his rule – and every time, that fist ensured victory for Mugabe.

The current president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, the man who finally ousted Mugabe in a bloodless coup last November, has also crushed his enemies ruthlessly in the past – but his iron fist lies within a well-padded velvet glove.
Mnangagwa goes head to head at the polls with Nelson Chamisa, 40, who took over as leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after Morgan Tsvangirai died earlier this year.

Whoever wins, this election heralds a new dawn for Zimbabwe. Mugabe has gone. Things will never be the same again. Certainly, Mnangagwa brings a lot of baggage from the Mugabe era – having been the former president’s righthand man.

But he is different in many significant ways – today, Mugabe even urged voters to turn their backs on his leadership, and went so far as to wish Chamisa well. Most importantly, Mnangagwa understands business and is determined to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and give the people what they so desperately want and need – jobs.

He is primarily a soldier, having left Zimbabwe as a teenager in the early 1960s for military training in China. He has fashioned himself after the former communist leader Deng Xiaoping, who modernised China and laid the foundations for the economic powerhouse it has become, while maintaining a strictly authoritarian regime.

Deng abandoned many orthodox communist doctrines to incorporate elements of the free-enterprise system. Mnangagwa seems determined to do the same for Zimbabwe. He is a wealthy man in his own right, having run Zanu-PF’s and his own businesses since the early 1980s. He has been mentioned in a UN report on the plundering of mining and logging resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo together with General Sibusiso Moyo, who is now the foreign affairs minister.

Over the eight months since he took the reins from Mugabe, Mnangagwa has given clear signals of a clean break with the past – actively courting the west, preaching and practising peace instead of violence, eschewing corruption, meeting business leaders and white farmers, and generally projecting himself as a reformist. He has met personally the many business missions that have visited the country this year, and has promised to get rid of the cumbersome bureaucracy that currently stifles new investment. He has suspended Mugabe’s populist indigenisation act, which required foreigners to cede 51% of their shares to locals (ZANU-PF, of course) in all sectors except gold and diamond mining. He has even made it his election slogan – with party supporters everywhere sporting T-shirts proclaiming “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

While Mugabe was a consummate manipulator, skilfully playing people off against each other and weaving a complex web of patronage, Mnangagwa is a much more of a strategist. He will be prepared to make tough decisions that could ultimately benefit the economy. He has certainly been more successful in attracting foreign investment in the short time he has been in power than Mugabe was in decades of berating the west.

 

The MDC’s Chamisa is just as pro-business as Mnangagwa, and to his credit has surrounded himself with several capable technocrats. There is no whiff of corruption about him and he has been drawing massive crowds in many rural areas which, under Mugabe, were no-go areas for his party. And of course the MDC’s democratic and human rights credentials are well established – while those of Zanu-PF are a constant cause for concern.

Should Chamisa win the election, there is no doubt that the world would welcome Zimbabwe back into the fold with open arms. But Mnangagwa is smart enough to realise that international recognition of his government can only come if this election is acknowledged as free and fair by the global community. While Britain has been unswervingly supportive of the post-Mugabe regime, the US has reserved judgment – recently renewing its sanctions on Zanu-PF leaders and companies, but promising to lift them once credible elections have taken place.

And there’s the rub.

Many believe it is impossible for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to run a free and fair poll. It is accused of rigging every election since it was established in 2004; it is still staffed largely by the military and Zanu-PF loyalists; and it has shown shameful bias towards the ruling party in recent months. For example, the law says the ballot paper should be in alphabetical order, which places Chamisa second on the 23-person list. The commission cleverly formatted the paper into two lop-sided columns, in order to place Mnangagwa at the very top of column two.

So this election could bring three possible results: if Mnangagwa wins, the MDC already has enough ammunition against the electoral commission to cry foul.

If Chamisa wins convincingly, it will be a new dawn indeed – but the military might not accept this, as the Generals have already invested a lot in Mnangagwa.

But if there is no clear winner, the most sensible way forward would be for the two protagonists to agree to a marriage of convenience – otherwise known as a government of national unity.
• Wilf Mbanga, once falsely classified by Mugabe’s government as ‘enemy of the people’, is the founder, editor and publisher of The Zimbabwean weekly, published in the UK and Johannesburg

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USAfrica: “Resign! Get out of office!” – Bishop Oyedepo tells Nigeria’s President Buhari

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The founder of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, aka Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has called on Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, to resign due to what he considers to be the continuing failure of Buhari to stop  the incessant killings by militant Fulani herdsmen.

Oyedepo who spoke on the theme, “Enough is enough” recalled that “When I was talking in 2015, people were saying my own was too much, now everybody can see what’s happening,” he said. ”What has moved forward in anybody’s life? You don’t know it’s war. Why are they attacking the Christian communities? Why has nobody been arrested? I can tell you this, the authorities and the powers that be are behind them.”

“We must wake up and push this evil back. Not one of those so-called herdsmen – they are jihadists – has been brought to book till date. Herdsmen don’t shoot; they have been here all along. They are just taking cover under the herdsmen to assault innocent citizens. They wake up in the night and slice innocent children to pieces. Yet, you have a government in place. What!

“The most honourable thing for any non-performing leader to do is to resign. The most honourable thing is to resign. That’s my own for Mr President. Resign! Get out of office! Even our Islamic friends in the North are calling on him to resign. Because that’s the noblest thing to do. Or are we going to look at one system destroy a whole nation?”

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Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: U.S groups warn about security threats

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Widespread violence in Nigeria could affect next year’s presidential election, two US pro-democracy groups said on Friday, July 20, 2018.

Voters in Africa’s most populous nation go to the polls in February next year, with President Muhammadu Buhari looking to secure a second, four-year term of office.

The 75-year-old former military ruler in 2015 became the first opposition candidate to defeat a sitting president at the ballot box in the country’s history.

But despite pledging to defeat Boko Haram, whose insurgency has left at least 20,000 dead in the last nine years, violence persists and has erupted elsewhere.

The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, which have been on a joint visit to Nigeria, said fears of unrest were commonplace.

“Nigeria faces security challenges from a number of non-state actors that, if unchecked, could disrupt the electoral process,” the NDI and IRI said in a pre-election assessment.

As well as Boko Haram attacks, renewed violence in the long-running resources conflict between cattle herders and farmers in central states has killed 1,000 people this year.

Trading in illegal weapons, the apparent inability of the security forces to stop the violence and the framing of it in political or religious terms were fuelling unrest, they added.

“If not addressed, these security threats could erode confidence in government,” they said.

The high numbers of displaced in the northeast and central states could pose “specific challenges for the conduct of elections in the impacted areas”, they added.

Similar fears about violence and its potential effects on planning, holding and participating in an election in areas wracked by conflict were seen before the last vote.

The vote was pushed back six weeks to allow the military more time to secure areas controlled by Boko Haram, whose leader Abubakar Shekau had threatened to disrupt the election.

Voting eventually took place, with polling stations set up near camps for the displaced, although turn-out was down.

The NDI-IRI praised Nigeria for introducing measures to tackle voter fraud, including biometric identity cards and electronic readers, as well as increased civil society scrutiny.

Efforts to get younger people involved in politics, through new legislation to lower the age of political candidates, were welcomed.

But more needed to be done to increase the number of women involved in politics while “the over-personalisation of politics and of the role of money in elections” were a concern.

The July 14 poll to elect a new governor in the southwestern state of Ekiti, for example, was dogged by claims of vote-buying by the two main parties as well as harsh rhetoric.

“Vote-buying is an electoral offence; it also undermines the legitimacy of elections and weakens representative democracy,” the NDI-IRI said. AFP

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BrkNEWS #BokoHaram overruns army base; hundreds of soldiers missing in northern Nigeria

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AFP: Hundreds of Nigerian troops are missing after Boko Haram jihadists overran a military base in the remote northeast, security sources said Sunday, in the second major assault on the armed forces in two days.

The militants invaded a base holding more than 700 soldiers in Yobe state — where they abducted over 100 girls from a school earlier this year — in an hours-long onslaught Saturday night, a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Fewer than 100 soldiers have returned following the attack, which took place just 24 hours after Boko Haram fighters ambushed a military convoy in neighbouring Borno state on Friday.

The two assaults have highlighted the tenuous hold Nigerian forces have on the ravaged region despite claims by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government that the country is in a “post-conflict stabilisation phase”.

“Boko Haram terrorists attacked troops of the 81st Division Forward Brigade at Jilli village in Geidam district. The terrorists came in huge numbers around 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) and overran the base after a fierce battle that lasted until 9:10 pm,” said the military source.

“The base had 734 troops. Currently the commander of the base and 63 soldiers have made it to Geidam (60 kilometres away) while the remaining 670 are being expected,” he said, without elaborating on their possible fate.

“We don’t know if there were any casualties among the troops. That will be known later,” he said, adding that the base was new and the troops had recently arrived from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

A leader of a local anti-jihadist militia said the soldiers sustained casualties, but was unable to give a toll, attributing the attack to the Abu-Mus’ab Al-Barnawi faction of Boko Haram, which is known for targeting Nigerian forces.

“We learned that they drove from Lake Chad through Gubio (in nearby Borno state) and attacked the base,” he said.

Geidam resident Fannami Gana said the jihadists “overwhelmed” the troops.

“We don’t know the details of what happened but we learnt they were overwhelmed by hundreds of Boko Haram gunmen,” said Gana.

Nigerian army spokesman Texas Chukwu said he did not know about the attack.

“I am not aware of the attack because (I) have not received information from there,” Chukwu said in a text message to AFP.

On Friday, 23 Nigerian soldiers went missing after Boko Haram ambushed a convoy outside Bama, leading to the loss of several military vehicles.

According to a military officer, “around 100 terrorists” attacked the convoy.

The sophisticated attacks highlight the continued threat — and evolution — of Boko Haram, an Islamic State group ally, said Yan St-Pierre, counter-terrorism advisor and head of the Berlin-based Modern Security Consulting Group.

St-Pierre suggested the attacks could be because Boko Haram fighters are vying for control of the faction led by Abubakar Shekau, the long-time jihadist leader who is reportedly ill.

“When a near-mythical leader is on his way out there’s always a battle to establish who could be next,” said St-Pierre.

The attacks show the persistent threat of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region, he said.

As the jihadists exploit rampant poverty in the region, the Nigerian army, which is overstretched and under-resourced, struggles to keep the insurgency in check.

“The supply of Boko Haram fighters is always there, either through kidnapping or economic reasons, they tap into a wide pool of personnel, they find a way to replenish their strength,” St-Pierre said.

Buhari, a 75-year-old former military ruler, came to power three years ago on a promise to defeat Boko Haram.

But while there have been clear military gains since a counter-insurgency was launched in 2015, suicide bombings and raids remain a constant threat, particularly to civilians.

Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has devastated the region since 2009, leaving at least 20,000 people dead, displacing more than two million others and triggering a humanitarian crisis.

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USAfrica: Why Trump should watch out on May 30 for Biafra memorial day

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By Rev Joshua Amaezechi, contributing editor of USAfricaonline.com, Minister of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA) and Lead Chaplain, at the Kalamazoo County Jail 

History, they say, often repeats itself. This happens because we fail to learn from it and avoid its pitfalls. A look at history may provide a path for President Trump to reshape the US foreign policy on Nigeria in a manner that promotes life and advances human progress. An alternative is to ignore history and follow the known path of executive and economic convenience as was done in the past and live with the outcome.

History is perhaps about to repeat itself. Igbo Christians as well as their neighboring Christians in the middle belt of Nigeria have been facing unchallenged terrorist attacks from radical Islamists “Fulani Herdsmen” who overrun Christian communities, killing women, men and children and seeking to take over their lands. There had been many cases in which the Nigerian Military under President Buhari had been accused of aiding and abetting these attacks as killers were neither arrested nor frontally confronted by the State Security. Official policies of the government of President Buhari to reduce arms in the hands of civilians ended up only disarming the natives, thereby giving the invading herdsmen an edge over their victims. 

Like Nixon, president Trump has declared that the killing of Christians in Nigeria would no longer be acceptable to the US government. During a recent visit of President Buhari of Nigeria to the White House, president Trump was quoted to have said:

 “Also, we’ve had very serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed in Nigeria. We’re going to be working on that problem, and working on that problem very, very hard, because we can’t allow that to happen.”

 President Trumps commitment to protect Christians in Nigeria was reaffirmed in his speech on the National Day of prayer and aligns with his campaign promise to tackle the problem of Boko haram and Islamic terrorism, twin problems which as believed by the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) are geared towards the Islamization of Nigeria. But Nixon’s declaration on Biafra is different from President Trump’s promise to protect Christians in Nigeria. While the later was a declaration of a high profile presidential candidate, the latter is the declaration of a sitting president. However, both declarations place similar moral obligation on the US government to act decisively to protect Christians, especially at this time when 99% of the strategic Armed forces of Nigeria are headed by Muslims and mostly kinsmen of President Buhari who is widely known for his nepotism and unflinching support for the spread of Islam. 

The moral obligation of the US comes to the fore as the Igbo people and the peoples of the former Republic of Biafra who are mainly Christians and Omenana Jews gather on May 30 to remember the estimated 3.5 million of their folks who were killed during the Nigerian Biafran war. Already, Nigeria’s ‘President Buhari’s government has deployed Soldiers and combat airplanes to the region ahead of the May 30 memorial, even when that region is known to be the safest and peaceful part of Nigeria. While it is a moral tragedy that genocidists who should have been in jail, were allowed to become Presidents and heads of states in Nigeria, some with streets and public places named after them; it is even a greater moral evil for the bereaved to be denied the freedom and solemnity to mourn their dead. 

It is the aggregation of the pains and sorrow of many Christian families who lost their loved ones due to Nixons dereliction of his moral obligation to save Biafra from genocide and its interplay with current persecution of Christians in Nigeria that makes May 30 a day to watch for President Trump. The moral burden of allowing 1967-1970 to repeat itself will be too much for the US to bear.

 From 1967 to 1970, the Igbo people of the South Eastern Nigeria, with over 80% Christian majority faced the danger of extinction in an avoidable war between Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra. The US presidential candidate, then former Vice President and front runner in the presidential election Richard Milhous Nixon attracted widespread attention and support when on September 8, 1968 he issued a statement calling on the US to intervene in the Nigerian-Biafra war, describing the Nigerian governments war against the Biafrans as a “genocide” and the “destruction of an entire people”. Following his declaration, the Christians of Igbo land felt a sense of relief with the expectation that Nixon’s victory at the poll would usher in a shift in US foreign policy on Nigeria and a departure from Lyndon Johnson’s half-hearted interestedness, evidenced by minimalist provision of relief to the starving Igbo in the Biafran territory.

 Nixon won! Unfortunately, rather than act to end genocide in Biafra, President Nixon followed Lyndon Johnson’s policy. Not even the declassified memo from the former US Secretary of State and NSA, Henry Kissinger, describing the Igbo as “the wandering Jews of west Africa..” and calling for a more robust response turned the needle of President Nixon’s neglect to follow up on his campaign promises on Biafra. With these words “I hope Biafra survives”, he gave up Biafra. The result was that estimated 1 million children and civilians were starved to death following the official blockade of all access of food aid and medical relief by the Nigerian Military Government. 

While the Watergate Scandal put the final seal on Nixon’s presidency, many would argue that his foreign policy failures, including his relative silence over genocide against Biafrans  ate deep into his political capital leaving him with no significant goodwill. We know how it ended: President Nixon resigned!

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#Breaking “Worst case scenario” predicted for latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo

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The World Health Organisation says it is preparing for “the worst case scenario” in a fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO has recorded 32 suspected or confirmed cases in Bikoro, including 18 deaths, between April 4 and May 9. The cases include three healthcare workers, one of whom has died.

This is the country’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team. Efforts to contain the latest outbreak have been hampered because the affected region of the country is very remote.

“There are very few paved roads, very little electrification, access is extremely difficult… It is basically 15 hours by motorbike from the closest town,” WHO’s head of emergency response Peter Salama said.

Cases have already been reported in three separate locations around Bikoro, and Mr Salama warned there was a clear risk the disease could spread to more densely populated areas.

WHO is particularly concerned about the virus reaching Mbandaka, which has around one million inhabitants and is only a few hours away from Bikoro.

“If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak,” Mr Salama warned.

The organisation has a team on the ground and is preparing to send up to 40 more specialists to the region in the coming week or so.

Nigeria’s government this week ordered that travellers from DR Congo should be screened as an additional security measure after the fresh outbreak was confirmed, but the request was rejected by Nigeria’s health workers’ unions, who have been striking since April 18 over pay and conditions.

The country does not share a border with DR Congo but memories are still fresh of an Ebola outbreak in 2014 that killed seven people out of 19 confirmed cases. ref: AFP

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USAfrica: Will Rwanda President Kagame succeed President Kagame, ruling for 34 years?

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Special to USAfricaonline.com

Who will succeed President Paul Kagame? Ask the ruling party – Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) – and Rwandan citizens, says the president.

“The succession plan is not mine. If it had been, I would not be here now; I would have left because that is what I intended to do,” President Kagame said last week during a panel discussion at the Mo Ibrahim Governance summit in Kigali.

President Kagame was elected to a third seven-year term in 2017, after a constitutional referendum led to the suspension of term limits.

Under the amended constitution, a presidential term was slashed from seven to five years, and set to be renewed only once. This allows President Kagame to run for two further five-year terms when his current term ends- potentially making him rule for 34 years until 2034.

But even after winning his third term with an enviable 99 per cent of the vote, President Kagame said he had no intentions of leading past two terms, and was only persuaded by Rwandans to stay on.

“I intended to serve the two terms and leave; that was my intention and it is clear, I don’t have to keep defending myself on it. I was deeply satisfied in my heart … until people asked me to stay,” he said.

“And even then, it took some time before I accepted; finally I did because of history — the history of my involvement in politics and being a leader which started from childhood.”

The Rwandan head of state argued that it was never his ambition to be president in the first place, and that he was not prepared to lead the country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, turning down his party when they fronted him as a leader.

“In 1994, my party had taken it for granted that I was going to take the helm as the leader. I told them to look for someone else. I told them I wasn’t prepared for it; it was not what I was fighting for,” he said.

“I became vice president and Minister of Defence. Later, then president (Pasteur Bizimungu) had problems with parliament and was impeached. They turned to me and asked me to lead and I said yes.”

President Kagame warned that although it appeared as though his longevity in power has been left for him to decide, there will come a time when no amount of persuasion from his party or the citizenry will convince him to stay.

“If I were to reach a stage — and I will not reach that stage — where people ask me to continue… and when I feel I cannot do much for them, then I will tell them no. Even if they insist, I will also insist on going,” he said.

The president said that once he is out of power, he will support his successor.

But in a country where rights groups have alluded that the political climate only favours the ruling party, it is unlikely that President Kagame’s successor — whenever he or she comes — will come from outside the RPF.

On top of overseeing a strong recovery of the Rwandan economy, ensuring peace and stability, the RPF has consolidated political and financial power since taking over power in 1994.

This is to the point of having several other political parties seeking for coalition with RPF rather than contend for influence.

•Mugisha, Rwandan journalist and author Of Sheep That Smell Like Wolves is based in Kigali, Rwanda. He contributes to the East African.

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World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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